Fueled by content, I exited completely energized and inspired from CES 2012. Why? Because every technology provider and hardware manufacturer highlighted their product features and innovations through content; specifically, video content. Listening to Tom Hanks talk about his new Yahoo Web series -- and how the format presents limitless opportunities -- only added to my excitement.
All indicators are pointing to this being the year for Web video: Netflix’s original content deals, YouTube investing over $100 million in original Web series, Tom Hanks partnering with Yahoo on original programming -- the list goes on. Add in highly anticipated original content slates from CBS, Sony’s Crackle, Michael Eisner’s Vuguru, and you have the foundation for a game-changing year.
The challenge for the buying side of the industry and advertisers remains how to find all the new content while it’s still available for investment. The television upfronts have long been the major sales driver for the broadcast and cable industries. Over the years, various Web video platforms and portals have attempted to create this same momentum. With all the recent innovations and investments in the space, this is going to be the year of the original Web television upfronts -- and I say, bring them on!
Leading the unifying charge has been the International Academy of Web Television. (Disclosure: I’m the chairman of the IAWTV). With the inaugural Awards at CES, the IAWTV has taken the major step of establishing an industry awards platform to recognize and celebrate the best in Web television.
You may ask – what do awards really bring to the table, aside from a shiny trophy? But as Hactivision recently wrote, awards are a necessary step in establishing “norms and values for audiences. They adjudicate quality, innovation, diversity and help raise awareness.” The IAWTV awards, with the help of YouTube and Yahoo, highlighted the most celebrated content within an international community of creators, distributors, studios and networks.
Most important, the awards helped contribute to the growing sense of unity that has become so important to the web video industry. It is through unity that the marketplace will continue to manifest and deals will flow more easily. Currently our industry is hindered by a lack of sales and analysis norms. How does an advertiser find and evaluate content opportunities with so many around? With the continuing unity of creators, brands, and publishers, I anticipate a video content matchmaking platform that will provide advertisers the marketplace to discover, engage, and package scalable content.
The scale and reach of original Web video content will only continue to expand. With all of the announcements that came out of CES (connected televisions, Sony’s bet on GoogleTV, immersive tablets, and smart appliances all seamlessly serving up and sharing content) video is expected to be the killer app. This will add to the growth of Web video audiences -- and even more important, the audiences for original web video. Look for an original Web series to forecast TV-like scale and reach in a single episode within a TV-like time period.
Ultimately, unity means strength in numbers –- and that’s how we will grow the Web television industry beyond just projections. This is the year that Web series become the main product, and not just an extension of TV. Our numbers –- and this industry -- are growing stronger every day.